In a move that many claim is nothing short of an attempt to rewrite history, Texas School Board members have approved changes to that state’s K-12 social studies curriculum. The proposed changes are sweeping and have a decidedly conservative bent that has drawn criticism from those find the content to be historically inaccurate and dismissive of the contributions of minorities.
This week, the Texas School Board members are meeting in Austin for community input and a final vote on the new textbooks. The outcome of these meetings will likely have an impact far beyond the Lone Star State. Because Texas is the second-largest textbook buyer in the country, what they approve is often incorporated into the curriculum of other states.
But California isn’t waiting to see what happens at these meetings. They don’t want these books ending up in the hands of their students are have introduced legislation to prevent that from happening.
Democratic Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco describes the Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.” Deeming the content “offensive,” he has proposed that the the California Board of Education be required to take special notice of the Texas content and subject it to a full review with findings reported to both the Legislature and the secretary of education.
Just what are these proposed changes that has everyone so worked up? Here are some of the highlights:
- References to the “slave trade” have been dropped in favor of the more benign “Atlantic triangular trade.”
- A description of the civil rights movement as creating “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities.
- Language has been added to say that the country’s Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles.
- Thomas Jefferson’s role in history, political philosophy and thoughts about the separation of church and state have been minimized or omitted.
- A section has been added to cover “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s” and includes positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association, the Contract with America and the congressional GOP manifesto from the 1990′s.
The list goes on and on and most, if not all changes, seem to be colored by the political and religious leanings of the Christian conservatives who make up nearly half of the Texas education board.
But forget politics and religion for a moment. The bottom line here is that this group is proposing teaching students historically inaccurate information. Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education would like to see personal opinions removed from the debate. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a good history issue,” he says.
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